So this is the end of the world. You are up on 300 metre high cliffs at the tip of Cape Pillar, it almost feels as if you are on the tip of a ship’s bow, looking out onto a little island and the vast ocean. The wind roars along the coast stealing all the words you want to say to your hiking companions. Look! Rocky pillars line up like patiently waiting soldiers, braving the moods of the Atlantic Ocean. But look! On a sunny day like today, the waves are gently snuggling up around the little Tasman Island which lies behind the rock pillars, and where only a small lighthouse towers up like a white cotton stick between the spherical bushes. Behind, the ocean rolls out all the way to the horizon, where it no doubt becomes darker and wilder. Only another 3,000 kilometres to the Antarctic. When you breathe in, you can imagine the snow.
This end of the world is called The Blade, and is located in the southwest of Tasmania, a 70 kilometre bee line from Hobart. It is the highlight of the new 46 kilometre long Three Capes Track trail which is based on a study carried out by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Services. They asked what today’s hikers wanted from a bushwalk. The answers were diverse landscape, a moderate level of difficulty and comfortable accommodation en route. So, the previously difficult hiking paths were rearranged, stone steps built and three hiking huts erected – and the Tree Capes Track was born.
World Heritage Site Port Arthur
It starts in Port Arthur, the former convict colony, and World Heritage Site since 2010. Back then, the end of the world was a punishment. Only the worst convicts ended up here in the 1840s. The ones that did not only steal bread in England but who were caught offending again in Australia. Nowadays, the far-away-feeling is a temptation. So in the afternoon, a boat takes hikers from Port Arthur to Denmans Cove. During the one-hour boat ride, our glances and the brilliantly blue water enter the caves along the rugged coast peppered with golden sand dunes along the shoreline. A seal could dance in the waves. Or further away – a humpback whale perhaps? When you are dropped off in a bay and you see the boat leaving, thoughts of loneliness inevitably fill your mind. Then you tighten up the backpack with the food in it and follow the timber plank walkway into the forest.
The path is simple, you walk along plank and gravel paths, no need to watch out for trip hazards, you can lift your head and look at everything step after step, the lush green rainforest, the smooth trunks of the eucalyptus trees, the heathery coastal landscape. The Three Capes Track is a long distance hike for beginners. After the first four kilometres, the veranda of the Surveyors Cabin comes into view. You can put your feet up in a deckchair. There is a gas stove and pots in the kitchen, board games, books and yoga mats in the shelves, mattresses in the dorms. The air smells of eucalyptus, and when the sun sets, the Southern Cross rises in the sky accompanied by a gazillion of stars. There is no air pollution here, the world is indeed magical and pure.
On the second day, the panorama view begins, already quite impressive from Arthur’s Peak. The elements suddenly dance like crazy with each other: the wild Atlantic Ocean with its followers – the Roaring Fourties which howl between the 40th and 50th latitude from Patagonia to Tasmania and are responsible for the changeable weather. Now it touches your face as if checking you out like Santa’s little helper before moving on with an amused smile. When you are in the Munro Cabin at night, your face will still be glowing from a day outside in the wind.
And when you arrive at the most south-eastern tip of the Tasman Peninsula on the third day, standing on the Blade, you are then already so much an integral part of everything that the wind is only a tickle and the steep and rugged cliffs make your knees weak in another kind of way. Not only because of nervousness, but rather in awe – how beautiful the end of the world is! The same experience repeats itself the next day, a sublime view from Mount Fortescue to similarly steep cliffs, and afterwards, as a reward for all the kilometres walked and constant fascination, you take a swim in Forescue Bay with its beautiful white beaches. And you want to stay so far away for so much longer.
Three Capes Track
The four-day Three Capes Track is the second long-distance hiking trail after the Overland Track, and leads for 46 kilometres along easy paths from Denmans Cove via Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy to Fortescue Bay. 48 people are allowed on the track per day, so pre-booking is essential The reservation includes the entry fee for Port Arthur jail, parking fee, transfer from Port Arthur to the start and end of the trail, three overnight stays in accommodation and the hiking book “Encounters on the Edge”. Reservation and more info: www.threecapestrack.com.au. About Tasmania in general: www.discovertasmania.com.au
15. März 2017, Text: Cindy Ruch